Dache McClain Reeves was a United States Air Force officer who specialized in balloon reconnaissance and aerial photography during World War I. His interest in aerial photography continued throughout his life. In 1925, he was a lecturer on photographic intelligence at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1927, he authored Aerial Photographs: Characteristics and Military Aplications, New York, The Ronald Press Company. In 1932, he invented a stereoscope to aid in making maps from aerial photographs, which was sold to the Fairchild Camera Company.
In addition to this and many other interests, he also took part in establishing the Army Aeronautical Museum (later the United States Air Force Museum) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He served the museum as a curator and director.
Reevesʹs involvement in archeology had begun by 1914, when he was commissioned by Westminster Magazine to write a series of articles on early man in Georgia. The point of connection between this early interest and aerial photography is not clear, but by the 1920s it was growing. Reeves, for example, had discovered that aerial photography would reveal, among other things, outlines of earthworks even in plowed-over land.
List of photographs
Most of the papers were originally donated to the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History. They were transferred to the National Anthropological Archives in 1973. There were accretions in 1977 and 1980.
(1) Mound culture notes, n.d.; (2) mound formations, 1934-1940; (3) Ohio state index, 1934-1940; (4) general state site index, 1934-1940; (5) general notes on archeology and anthropology, ca. 1925-1968; (6) miscellany, n.d.; (7) photographic prints, 1911-1946; (8) photographic negatives 1911-1940; (9) oversize material (cartographic material, artwork, and large photographs), n.d
Although Reeves was making aerial photographs of archeological sites by 1924, it was not until the 1930s that he took or had taken most of the photographs in the collection. Most of them are of mounds and other earthworks in Ohio, but there are also views of sites in California, Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, and Colorado. Reeves was in rather frequent touch with archeologists in the Bureau of American Ethnology and the United States National Museum. The photographs made at Marksville in Louisiana and at the Lindenmeier site in Colorado were made for these archeologists. For these and most of the photographs, there is provided the name of the site, photograph number, date, and reference to a map.
There are some maps that plot his flights. Such information as altitude, speed, and time, however, are generally lacking. About the Marksville photographs, he wrote "the time of year may be ascertained by studying the foliage on trees. As the camera used was probably of twelve inches focal length, the altitude may be computed from the length and the scale of the vertical photographs."
Reevesʹs interest in archeology extended beyond the technical problems of aerial photography. He thought of himself as resurveying Indian mounds and was interested in information about related artifacts as well as other data. Such information he normally acquired from publications and placed in information files of a rather general nature. The files include data outside areas where he photographed and concern sites of the Midwest, Southeast, and Pennsylvania.
There are small amounts of material in the collection that relate to nonarcheological subjects. Among these are photographs of Army Air Service activities in France during World War I, land forms of the Philippine Islands, and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. There are also lantern slides used at a lecture at the United States Military Academy.
Papers of Dache McClain Reeves, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland